A Botanical Celebration of Faith by Clare Ryan-Dodd

A Botanical Celebration of Faith by Clare Ryan-Dodd


(Chaplaincy Administrator)


We often send flowers or fruit to people and decorate buildings with them to celebrate special occasions. Plants feature in religious festivals and have symbolic significance in general terms.

Using water colours I painted something for each faith covered by Multifaith Chaplaincy: Baha’i Faith, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam and Judaism. I decided to include Paganism and Sikhism.

Baha'i celebrations feature red roses.[1]

Buddhism is associated with the lotus flower and banyan (fig) tree.[2]

Christianity makes reference to many plants: “In Adam's hand, the apple symbolizes sin. When held by Christ, it represents salvation…”[3]

In Hinduism the lotus flower, holy basil and banyan tree are adored.[4]

A new… pomegranate and date palm were introduced/reintroduced into Spain by Muslims… A king, brought many rare plants to his garden including banana and sugar cane.”[5]

During Sukkot Jewish people wave a palm branch with myrtle and willow twigs, and a citron. Pesach celebrates all of nature and spring regeneration. Any kind of green herb like watercress, and bitter herbs like horseradish help us remember bitter time in Egypt and elsewhere.[6]

A nursery celebrates Guru Har Rai’s birthday by planting trees and medicinal herbs/spices including cloves and aloe vera [7] – important in Sikhism.

A lot of traditions have Pagan “roots”, like the bringing in of Christmas greenery. In ‘Macbeth’ Shakespeare is referring to common names of plants rather than animal parts as ingredients for the cauldron.[8]

Reproduced by kind permission of Clare Ryan-Dodd
Copyright ©Clare Ryan-Dodd